Last month, I wrote that the hasty evac has become the hallmark of a Barack Obama foreign-policy “success.” That was specific to Yemen, where the Arab Spring policies that turned Libya, Syria, and Iraq into failed states and nearly did the same for Egypt had borne its same fruit in Sana’a after Houthi rebels seized the capital. Three years after the Obama administration and the West forced Ali Abdullah Saleh out of power, Yemen has become so chaotic that the embassies of the US, UK, and France are closing, and their personnel getting evacuated:
The American and British embassies in Yemen suspended operations and moved staffers out Wednesday, and urged their citizens to leave the politically-unstable nation as well.
The U.S. Embassy had already been operating on a skeletal staff since late January.
The French embassy also said it would close its doors starting Friday due to the security situation.
The French and British are also asking their nationals to get out of the country:
France on Wednesday said it will close its embassy in Yemen due to mounting security concerns, urging French nationals to leave the country as soon as possible, the embassy said on Wednesday.
“Given the latest political developments and for security reasons, the embassy asks you to temporarily leave Yemen as quickly as possible,” the embassy said in a statement on its website, noting the embassy will be closed Friday until further notice.
Britain also announced earlier Wednesday that they would close their embassies there and immediately began evacuating their diplomatic staff while the US announced the closure of their embassy on Tuesday.
The closures come as Houthi rebels, armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and dressed in police uniforms and civilian clothes, patrolled the main boulevards of the capital, Sanaa, some in pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns.
Oh, and who might be behind the chaos? Just the man that Obama and the West (and Saudi Arabia) pushed out of power three years ago:
But many Yemenis believe that Saleh never really relinquished his power. He is widely accused of using his wealth, family connections and influence over the military and tribal leaders to aid an insurgency that toppled the U.S.-backed government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi last month.
Now, as Yemen faces an uncertain future that could include civil war and the breakup of the country, the 72-year-old former president is a major player, according to critics, analysts and foreign diplomats. The reverberations of the crisis go well beyond Yemen: The U.S. government fears that the tumult could strengthen al-Qaeda-linked rebels and harm the American drone program. …
Saleh’s influence was largely left intact because of an internationally backed political transition process that granted him immunity from prosecution and allowed him to remain in the country after he stepped down. He continues to chair the powerful party that he founded, the General People’s Congress.
“It’s clear to everyone that he has had a role in this mess,” said a Western diplomat who is based in the region, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “There is no doubt that this was a joint venture with the Houthis.”
Success! At least, the White House was claiming Yemen as a success as late as last September, when they tried to defend Obama against criticism over ISIS. Josh Earnest tried arguing that an almost hands-off strategy had worked magnificently in Somalia and Yemen. The press scoffed at the time, but more at the use of Somalia.
Somalia has been a failed or near-failed state for decades, though. It took the Obama administration to pull the struts out from underneath Yemen. That also was the case in Libya, where Obama and Hillary Clinton led an effort to decapitate the Qaddafi regime with no plans for controlling the aftermath. Obama’s insistence on a full withdrawal from Iraq (against the advice of his first two Secretaries of Defense) took the handcuffs off of Nouri al-Maliki and allowed the sectarian fighting that nearly gave away everything north of An Najaf. It’s also true to some extent in Syria, where the US and the West encouraged the rebellion as part of their Arab Spring policies and then did nothing to either help it succeed or keep it from getting radicalized.
Sky News notes that the collapse of Yemen means good news for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP):
Say, aren’t those the very fellows we’re supposed to be fighting? Shouldn’t we be calculating our foreign policy so that we deny them ground for operation and expansion, rather than create failed states that allow them to thrive? That would truly be smart power, but this administration seems to be more interested in lofty speeches rather than strategic planning and application of power.
Now we’re on the retreat yet again from another Arab nation. Chalk up another Obama “success.”